How to Turn a Nasty Surprise into the Next Disruptive Idea

Fast Company Co.Design • July 16, 2012

Getting lucky. Intuit, Canon and Four Seasons have all managed to gain market share for new products through a combination of serendipity and surprise. Read on for suggestions on how to harness the element of surprise to advance your products and services to the next level.

Acknowledging the unexpected when it occurs can lead to the kind of repositioning and success described here. There's a nice list suggesting things you can do to find the unexpected e.g., "Find customers using your products or services in the 'wrong' way," or "Listen for market misperceptions." Those make me think of students using the library as a refuge and source of a friendly electrical outlet (wrong but right) or faculty who dismiss the library as a place for books (right but not right enough). (Michalko)

Sloooowprise! RIM Slips into the Abyss

Forbes • July 7, 2012

Wake-up call. "All too often, disruption is not so much about surprise, as it is about slowprise," says author Bill Fischer, who attributes the painfully drawn-out demise of companies like RIM and Borders to their leaders' blindspots—an inability to see beyond a highly successful business model. Check out Fischer's recommendations on how to avoid the blindspots in your own environment.

I think they have it correct—" . . . disruption is a failure of leadership more than innovation." Or as the quotation in heavy rotation these days puts it—"How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways, gradually and then suddenly." No it's not Twain (or Yogi Berra). Hemingway. (Michalko)

Innovation Almost Bankrupted LEGO—Until It Rebuilt with a Better Blueprint

Knowledge@Wharton • July 18, 2012

Curb your enthusiasm. This cautionary tale of LEGO Group's near-death experience provides a close-up view of an industry icon in innovation overdrive. In the early 2000s, the company faced a maturing customer base, foreign competition and a changing distribution environment. Its response was an unfocused innovation frenzy that depleted its bank account and worker morale. Read on to find out how LEGO pulled back from the brink.

They did all the hard things by the book and still flew pretty close to the ground. The strength of their brand is remarkable. I remember when their patent finally expired, I presented my daughter with a huge barrel of knock-off snap bricks (1/3 the price) adequate to build a house for the family's small dog (an unexplained obsession of hers). The barrel went unopened—"These aren't LEGOs." Here's a fascinating story about the fearlessness of the CEO of the first LEGO competitor Mega Bloks. (Michalko)

Digital-First Companies Thrive on Mobile Disruption. Everyone Else Struggles.

Lucid Plot • July 16, 2012

Mobility mantra. Content strategist Jonathan Kahn addresses the concerns of many organizations facing the challenge of transforming into mobile-ready businesses from print-legacy traditions: "When we talk about moving from platform-specific content and functionality—content stuck in a desktop web silo—to a central content API that supports multi-platform digital interactions, we're not talking about a fancy new CMS. Instead, we need to stop treating digital as a bolt-on, and start to transform into a digital-first business."

The legacy of our print origins is particularly strong in library and more generally in academic websites. If you were designing a library that served up nothing but e-materials its delivery system would be congruent with its discovery system. And, of course, that's exactly what the vast majority of our clients want—finding is having, discovery is fulfillment. (Michalko)

The Bookless Library

The New Republic • July 12, 2012

Get used to it. David Bell's essay provides a thoughtful counterpoint to the current hand-wringing over the library-transformed-into-internet-café scenario. The bottom line: it's always better to change oneself before someone else decides to do it for you.

Bell describes a variety of alternate library futures using the NYPL Central Library Plan as a jumping off place. If this hasn't come across your horizon then take the time to read it. It's interesting to see what this Princeton history professor regards as the enduring values contributed by libraries to society and alternate ways they might be delivered. What he thinks worthy of preserving—expertise, communal functions, specialized collections, and access—are the areas where a lot of libraries are focusing their efforts in order to continue to deliver value to their communities. They were, in fact, the themes of our Libraries Rebound event earlier this summer (videos, slides, blog entries related to the event are all now on the event site). (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia of truth but rather an encyclopedia of what?

Get the answer.